Position of object pronouns with infinitives

Look at the object pronouns in these sentences with infinitives:

Je peux la rencontrer aujourd'hui.
I can meet her today.

Valérie doit le garder.
Valérie must babysit him.

J'aime l'écouter.
I like to listen to him.

Tu veux les acheter.
You want to buy them.

Nous allons lui parler.
We are going to talk to her.

Je vais leur téléphoner.
I'm going to phone them.

Note that generally, when object pronouns are used in sentences with infinitives, they are placed right before the infinitive.

 

See also Replacing nouns with le, la, l', les = it, him, her, them (direct object pronouns)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Nous allons lui parler.
We are going to talk to her.


Tu veux les acheter.
You want to buy them.


Je peux la rencontrer aujourd'hui.
I can meet her today.


Tu détestes les entendre.
You hate to hear them.


Valérie doit le garder.
Valérie must babysit him.


Je vais leur téléphoner.
I'm going to phone them.


J'aime l'écouter.
I like to listen to him.


Q&A

Anne

Kwiziq community member

26 August 2018

3 replies

I can meet her today

I can meet her today = je peux la rencontrer aujourd'hui. 

Why do we use "la" instead of "lui'? I'm confused as to when to use le and lui, la and lui. What's the difference?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

27 August 2018

27/08/18

Hi Anne,

le/la are the direct object pronouns whereas lui is the indirect object pronoun. 

Je lis le livre -- Je le lis. Direct object "le livre".   

Je parle à Anne. -- Je lui parle. Indirect object "à Anne". 

Check out this page for a principal understanding of direct and indirect kbjects: 

https://www.myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/grammar-lesson-direct-indirect-object.php

Anne

Kwiziq community member

27 August 2018

27/08/18

Got it. Merci, Chris. 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

27 August 2018

27/08/18

De rien ;)

Lewis

Kwiziq community member

18 November 2017

2 replies

Écouter takes direct object pronoun?

From the lesson: J'aime l'écouter. (I like to listen to him.) Écouter = to listen to Isn't this use of 'him' an example of an indirect object, and therefore, "J'aime lui écouter", correct? Unless écouter isn't a verb that's usually by à, but it sure seems that it is.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

18 November 2017

18/11/17

J'écoute le prof. -- I listen to the teacher.

J'écoute de la musique. -- I listen to music.

But never: j'écoute à....
Consequently no lui/leur.

-- Chris. (not a native speaker).

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 November 2017

19/11/17

Bonjour Lewis et Chris !

Indeed the verb écouter in French takes a direct object:

écouter [quelque chose] to listen to [something]
In "écouter de la musique", the "de" isn't a preposition, but the partitive article [de la = some] used with uncountable nouns (you can't say une musique, deux musiques...).

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Christine

Kwiziq community member

26 March 2016

5 replies

Why is it: je vais leur téléphoner but tu détestes les entendre?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

26 March 2016

26/03/16

Bonjour Christine,

It's a question of indirect vs direct objects.

In French, the verb téléphoner requires the preposition à: Je vais téléphoner à mes parents. The preposition makes mes parents the indirect object, so it has to be replaced with the indirect object pronoun leur.

In comparison, the verb détester does not need a preposition: Tu détestes entendre tes parents, so tes parents is the direct object and is replaced by the direct object pronoun les.

Here are some lessons you might find helpful:

Direct objects

Indirect objects

Christine

Kwiziq community member

26 March 2016

26/03/16

Many thanks, I think I will have to spend some time getting my head round this concept! Christine

Charles

Kwiziq community member

8 April 2016

8/04/16

Hi Christine -- Spanish has very similar constructions. I find it helpful to think of it as "to", as in "I gave the book to her". You then just have to adjust to each verb because many don't need "to" in French where they do in English - and vice versa. Eg. "I listen to my parents" becomes "I listen my parents" in French. "I'll phone you" becomes "I'll phone to you". Then the direct/indirect object pronouns fall into place without having to think further. It's a simplification and doesn't ALWAYS work, but as you get to know which verbs do or don't take "à", it's generally a good mental shortcut. I hope that helps! Charles.

Lucy

Kwiziq community member

9 April 2016

9/04/16

Thanks - that could be the light bulb moment for me!

Lucy

Kwiziq community member

9 April 2016

9/04/16

Thanks - that could be the light bulb moment for me!

yellamaraju

Kwiziq community member

17 December 2015

1 reply

J'aime l'écouter.=I like to listen to him.Is it n't 'listen him' unlike mentioned in lesson

To get the meaning "listen to him" = "lui écouter". Is it appropriate?. Request clarification

 

Position of object pronouns in sentences with infinitives

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

17 December 2015

17/12/15

Bonjour Yellamaraju, J'aime l'écouter is correct. There are a few French verbs where the preposition required in English is in a sense built into the French verb. Écouter means "to listen to," regarder means "to look at," chercher means "to look for," etc. So even though we need a preposition in English, we don't in French.
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